Working Hard

Trip Start Jun 04, 2011
Trip End Jul 26, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Saturday, July 9, 2011

As the novelty of the bike trip is wearing off, we are becoming stronger riders. We are more accustomed to time in the saddle and we are riding harder and faster than we ever have before. Scott, Dad, Jon and I are getting very comfortable riding together and we are able to ride in a pretty tight and consistent pace line even at higher efforts.

Riding in Illinois is nothing more than riding between corn and/or soy fields. We spent a lot of time today on small (maybe 10 ft wide) farm roads. The asphalt and our tires got so hot that they would stick, snap, crackle and pop together as we roll along. 

Today's small highlight was a strawberry/dark chocolate shake at Steak and Shake. Mmmmm. We were all so hot and sweaty by the time we made it to the restaurant that we had salt stains all over our clothing. We get some pretty special looks while trying to act normal in our sweated out spandex. We just don't blend in. A woman at the table next to us struck up a conversation and at one point asked what we do about going to the bathroom. Scott proceeded to announce to the entire restaurant that we simply pee on the corn and soy beans when we feel the urge. I found that particularly off-putting and would like to set the official record straight; we occasionally pee in weeds on the side of the road, but we don't "water the crops" so you can still enjoy your corn on the cob this fall.

After we got to the hotel Scott and I did our ritual hot tub soak. This hot tub smelled like sewer water so I only stuck around for about 10 minutes. I crawled out and started stretching on the tile next to the swimming pool. I laid on my back to do some stretches and ended up falling asleep next to the pool, on my back, arms out, looking like a train wreck. Scott left, as did everyone else who was around at the time and I didn't wake up until American Jon came in 30 minutes later and the door slammed shut behind him. I woke up completely dry. This bike trip takes it out of me.

It also took it out of Scott today. He gorged himself on blueberries at our cemetery SAG stop; that snack was followed up with a steak burger. As some of you know, I ate way too many strawberries before Scott and Sarah's graduation party this May and then went out and had a steak burger... it ended terribly for me... and tonight it ended terribly for Scott. At lunch he announced to Steak and Shake that we pee on the corn; at dinner he announced to Home Town Buffet that he puked blueberries and steak burger onto the bushes - Thanks Scott. The truth of the matter is that he feels terrible and I'll let you imagine the details. Please pray for him - we don't get sick days on this ride and we have nearly 140 miles left to ride before we get a day off. He hasn't eaten much tonight and will likely be feeling pretty lousy on the bike tomorrow.

On a more positive note, my birthday is in two days and I get to see the rest of my family! That's honestly the one thing that's pushing me through these long, hot, flat, boring days in Illinois. This is a long trip and at time my motivation really drops off; I'm realizing that when I find things to look forward to I can motivate myself to keep riding. I love riding my bike, but this is a lot more riding than love for riding alone can motivate me to do. This is just a lot of riding. period.

Distance: 97.23 mi - 2,650.62 total
Time: 05:57:03 - 179:02:53 total
Elevation Gain: 1,615 ft - 85,706 total
Av. Speed: 16.3 mph - 14.8 overall
Av. HR: 118 bpm - 126 overall
Calories: 5,905 - 173,657 total

Flat Tire Count:
Scott - 9
Stephen - 3
Mark - 2

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Jeff Bracken on

Hang in there, guys! I grew up in Northern Illinois, and the corn fields were always "knee high by the 4th of July." Loving the daily updates....cannot imagine how much food you need to consume to maintain this level of activity!


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